Reviewed: April 27th, 2022 Released: June 21st, 2021 Genre: High Fantasy
Enter the Nine Lands of the Mountain Fell.
Skye has only ever known pain and solitude since waking up with neither memories or magic. Hunted for being a Ruler in a time when they are scarce, she has survived in the wilds near the Rim, always on the run from the rest of her kind. Only starvation could draw her close to a village, but when a chance encounter and a bit of bad luck launch her into the arms of a man whose soul is bonded to hers, hiding who she is may no longer be possible.
Ilyas is a hunted man. Wanted for killing the last High Queen of Vine, he is plagued by his past of wholesale slaughter. He never wanted another Queen, and certainly not a half-feral, distrustful girl who gave up on the Fae a long time ago. Unfortunately, Soulbonds are not so easily walked away from, no matter how hard they both may want to, especially when trapped together in a cave with a pack of Feral Fae right outside.
With long-held enmities breaking out between the besieged villagers and all their lives on the line, Ilyas and Skye must learn to work together and trust each other if they want to survive. Read My Thoughts…
Enchanted Forests is a collection of ten short fantasy stories about magical forests and the creatures living in them. All proceeds of this book are being donated to Rainforest Foundationto support their work in rainforest conservation.
Why does the book exist?
Ten fantasy authors who are concerned about the state of the planet saw an opportunity to do good with their writing. Each on our own, we don’t have the following or the financial wherewithal to make a significant contribution towards this important cause. But when we joined forces, we found we actually have a chance to make a difference.
Enchanted Forests is the second charity anthology these authors have worked on together, and it has been a fantastic opportunity to collaborate and turn the writing process, which is usually very lonely work, into a group activity. The authors read and critique each other’s stories and Elena Shelest has contributed with illustrations for each story in addition to providing her short story for the anthology. The previous book in the Enchanted Anthologies series of fantasy story collections for charitable causes is Enchanted Waters.
Why Rainforest conservation?
Since this anthology is about magical forests, the authors wanted to make a contribution towards forest conservation. Rainforests, specifically, are the type of forest in greatest danger from human activities. Deforestation overshadows conservation attempts to the extent that eight million hectares of rainforest are lost every year! Add to that: virtually all rainforest deforestation is driven by human activity! At the same time, rainforests are the source of foods and other products (many used in medicines) that we humans need.
Rainforest Foundation supports indigenous and traditional peoples of the world’s rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfill their rights by assisting them in securing and controlling the natural resources necessary for their long-term well-being and managing these resources in ways which do not harm their environment, violate their culture or compromise their future. Additionally, Rainforest Foundation works to develop the means to protect their individual and collective rights, and to obtain, shape and control basic services from the state.
About the authors
Jennifer Kropf is a Canadian author obsessed with Christmas legends and folklore.
Xander Cross creates original stories with folkloric elements from all over the world.
Ben is a myth obsessive who writes stories with exotic settings and cool monsters.
Alice is a young adult fantasy and fairytale author who spends most of her time adventuring in mythical lands and the rest exploring non-mythical ones.
Lyndsey writes young adult fantasy filled with myths, magic and swoon-worthy romance.
N.D.T. Casale is an Italian-American fantasy author creating magical realms for others to escape into and enjoy.
Astrid V.J. is a South African fantasy author who writes transformation fiction: exploring our human capacity to transform our lives and achieve success in the face of adversity.
Sky Sommers is a fan of retold fairytales, valkyries and frozen cinnamon buns.
Donna White writes epic and paranormal fantasy stories with mysterious adventures, gracious characters, and a touch of humor.
Elena Shelest is a Ukranian-American artist and author of romantic fantasy inspired by Cossack culture.
About the stories:
Gems of Fae and Foolery by Alice Ivinya
These two female dwarves aren’t to be crossed, especially not by an arrogant fae lord.
One Fair Eve by Lyndsey Hall
One dream. One wish. One bargain Pip will come to regret.
To Snare a Prince by Sky Sommers
What do you do when a six-headed dragon complains of indigestion after it’s just gobbled up a dark elf? Easy, you tell it to wait in line like everyone else.
Willow Daughter by Astrid V.J.
When a woodcutter follows a song into the forbidden depths of the forest, he finds himself tangled in a deadly conflict between the Willow Daughter and the Forest Father.
Pingguo and the Dead Forest by Xander Cross
In a desolate post-apocalyptic world riven by famine, three children make a journey through the Dead Forest in search for seeds defended by a dragon.
The Fern Flower by Elena Shelest
On the night when the legendary fern flower appears in the forest, can Miray and Savko find their true path?
Blood of the Unicorn by N.D.T. Casale
A wicked queen’s desire for blood from the hearts of unicorns, sends a princess through a divided forest into the shadows of death.
Dimension of the Sasquatch by Donna White
A lot has happened to the curator of a supernatural treasure trove since she discovered that she can walk through different dimensions, now she’s traveling with Bigfoot.
Feather Green by Jennifer Kropf
When Estheryn overhears the royal family’s secrets, it’s her father who pays the price, resulting in a careless murder that propels her to do the unthinkable: disobey the direct order of the Prince of Persianna and enter the forest.
The Lucky Tortoise by Ben Lang
A prince’s duty is to bring his people luck and the slightest misstep means bringing ruin to the kingdom…or worse…
Join us in making the world a better place! We are currently looking for readers to join our review team to help out with a review on Amazon, Goodreads and/or Bookbub during the book’s release week. You’ll get a free e-book copy of Enchanted Forests as well as your name included in the book’s acknowledgements if you sign up before May 15, 2022. Sign up here.
I am so excited about my novel SoulBreather, my first venture into paranormal fantasy and my contribution to this anthology.
If you love Feisty heroines, fallen angels and mystical dragons and intrigue then this should be the book for you. Add another 40 plus books and this is a bargain you do not want to miss!
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Ready to be swept away? Your book boyfriends are waiting… Enemies-to-lovers, alphas, fae, werewolves, dragons, shapeshifters, vampires, gods, angels, demons, and more: with novels ranging from sweet to spicy, there’s a flavor to sate your every craving.
You won’t find these exclusive novels anywhere else, so don’t miss your chance. Over ten thousand pages by New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors and at less than three cents per book, this collection is a steal, but only for a limited time. Grab it today before it’s gone forever…
My new paranormal fantasy releasing as part of the Realm of Darkness boxset.
If you fall in love with the shadows, does that mean you are fallen too? A dying angel. A fractured realm. The Soulbreather who might be able to save them both.
Solanji has a secret. One that is becoming increasingly difficult to keep. She can touch souls and see into a person’s inner thoughts.
Soulbreathing is exhilarating and addictive, until the day Solanji caresses the wrong person’s soulmist. Dragged into a long forgotten angelic mystery, she is forced to venture into Eidolon, the godforsaken last resort for those without souls. She rescues a broken and tortured man named Mav, but can she save him from the shadows? Does he even want to be saved? And can she find a way to return to the light before the darkness engulfs them both?
Only available as part of the Realm of Darkness Boxset available for preorder now on Amazon and other retailers for only 99c/99p!
Fantasy author Katharine Ann Melton released her debut urban fantasy novel Behind The Mirage on October 12th, 2020, (the day after I released my first novel. Almost book twins! )Welcome Katharine, thank you for joining me to talk about your debut novel. Tell us about Behind The Mirage.
Katherine: My book is Urban Fantasy. It is about an assassin that is given the most important job of her life: enter modern day Greece and assassinate Zeus to stop him from destroying mankind. If that isn’t hard enough, she has to juggle an unwanted proposal from Oberon her king, the threat of war and the realization that Zeus was responsible for the death of her parents. When she crosses into the human realm, she realizes that she isn’t the only one hunting Zeus. She is quickly confronted with uneasy alliances, vengeful gods, unsolved murders and the occasional malevolent portal to another world.
Helen: How did you come up with the name of your book?
Katharine: The title of my book ‘Behind the Mirage’ started out as a different name. I started writing the book over 20 years ago and it went through so many changes. Character names, traits, locations. The original title is closely related to the final title, but I just didn’t like the original. To me, it felt like I didn’t put to much thought into it.
Helen: I love the cover, how did you come up with the design?
Katharine: Since the book’s location is Greece, I wanted to make sure it was presented in the cover so the reader will be automatically transported there. I wanted my main character on the cover, but I didn’t want her face to be shown because I want readers to create her features in their mind. The cover turned out better then I had ever imagined. I believe it really showcases what the book is about.
Helen: It truly is a lovely cover. What made you choose to write this novel?
Katharine: Writing has been a part of my life since I was very young. I am not really sure what made me start, I just had so many stories to tell in my head that I needed to get them on paper. I would start out by writing scenes, maybe write a sentence or two about just different things. My mom has kept everything I have ever written since I could write. It all started as a hobby, never thinking I would actually write a book. I used to write screenplays, and then I wanted to turn one of them into a novel and that’s how the book started out.
Helen: Congratulations on finishing and publishing the book. Which character did you enjoy writing the most?
Katharine: I of course enjoyed writing my main character because I wanted a strong female lead that knew how to handle herself in different situations. A personality that the readers could relate to. I also enjoyed writing Hades; God of the Underworld. He is very sarcastic, he only helps when it benefits him, self-assured, blunt. I enjoyed writing his personality.
Helen: The Greek gods and myths are a great source of ideas and characters, how else do you find ideas to write about?
Katharine: This varies. I have gotten ideas by just looking at an object and developing a story around it. I have ideas from reading other books too, and even tv shows.
Helen: Tell us a little about your working process, do you enjoy listening to music whilst you write?
Katharine: I do. It is a mix from pop, to old school hip hop, to classic rock. Sometimes I will listen to a song while I am writing a scene because it helps me to visualize the scene better. There are most times that I write with the tv on too.
Helen: Thank you for chatting with me today, it’s been great learning about your novel. If you didn’t write urban fantasy what genre would like to try and write?
Katharine: If I didn’t write Urban Fantasy, I would like to try writing horror or sci-fi. I have started working on other projects because I never run out of ideas for stories. One story is horror/sci-fi that I write when I have writers block in my current project. I also would like to write a thriller novel. I believe you can write whatever genre you want; don’t limit yourself to one.
About the Author:
I grew up in Northern California and moved to the Washington DC metro area about 13 years ago. When I am not searching for new locations for my books, I am spending time with my friends and family. My book Behind the Mirage is the first book in a new series.
Joining me today is YA fantasy author C.A Bleu who released her debut fantasy novel The Trinity Ring on June 1st! Welcome Cindy, congratulations on publishing your first book. Such an achievement; I am so excited for you. Please tell us a little about your novel.
Cindy: Zara Trinity was ready to find her place in the world, but she never thought she would have the power to change it.
Her eighteenth birthday brings betrayal and family secrets to the surface that threaten to overwhelm her as she learns to wield her new powers.
Losing her mother at a young age Zara was raised by her guardian Aaron. As the leader of the Protectors of the Trinity, Aaron had sworn an oath to protect her. He regretted his role in the secrets he kept, but knew it was necessary for the prophecy.
Being hunted by Dimitri, an assassin she never expected to have feelings for leads Zara down an unexpected path. Holding the fate of Humanity in her hands will she be strong enough to withstand the tests ahead?
Helen: The Trinity Ring is your debut novel. What made you put pen to paper and write a book?
Cindy: I have worked in hospice over 15 years and about 6 or 7 years ago I decided to start journaling as an outlet. I kept feeling that I just needed to write, but I never thought I would actually write a book…I began writing about life, but gradually it changed to this story… over the years and after many edits it has evolved to The Trinity Ring.
Helen: Congratulations on completing your book. Writing can certainly be an escape from the daily pressures. You have a unique cover. How did you come up with the deisgn?
Cindy: For my cover I reached out to a local University of Tennessee art student. She read my book and then did an original painting of Zara Trinity. Bri Mckamey photographed her painting and created my book cover. She is still in art school at UT and this is her first book cover she has done.
Helen: How wonderful. Original art makes your book even more special. It is a lovely picture. Which character did you enjoy writing the most?
Cindy: Great question! I actually think I may have enjoyed writing about Dimitri the most. I think there is so much that he goes through that really connects all humanity. Grief, faith, self doubt these things know no boundaries. Both Dimitri and Zara go through a lot of change and self growth throughout this story and I think many people may be able to relate to some of it.
Helen: I saw from your bio that you work full time, and you are working on a second novel which is great news! How do you fit writing into your life?
Cindy: This is tough sometimes. I often write early in the mornings before the rest of the house begins to wake. Usually it is on the weekends and I love to sit on the back porch when writing.
I am a hospice social worker, I began with journaling…I never set out to write a book…let alone publish one… but it was my niece and daughter who one day looked at me asking why I wasn’t going to publish. As I looked at them I realized I had written about a strong female character battling self doubt and trying to be brave. How could I not show the women in my family the same courage. So for them, and myself, I decided to take the leap and publish. I wanted to show my daughter and niece that through our fears we can show our greatest strength.
Helen: How do you come up with the ideas for your books?
Cindy: This is the first book I have written and in this process the words just flowed. If felt like this story just came to life and needed to come out. The final printed book has many changes from my first draft, but getting that first draft out seemed to have a mind of its own as if poured out of me. Many parts of this book came from my own personal feelings and experiences having lost my mother at a young age as well.
Helen: I think what we experience in life must come though in our writing, you of course inherently write what you know, but it also colours other aspects as well. A long time ago I did a degree in Politics and International Relations, and I have a feeling that may influnce my world building! We just spice it up with a LOT more action and adventure! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. As a debut author just completing a book, what advice would you give to aspiring writers.
Cindy: I would tell new writers to just keep writing. Someone out there needs to read what you have written. Self-doubt creeps in, but just remember that your story will likely touch someone else out there in a time and place that they need to hear it. We are writing for a reason…whether it is to positively impact someone else’s life or to allow someone a way to escape the day-to-day routine.
About the Author:
Currently living in East Tennessee, I love being surrounded by the mountains and being in nature in general. After growing up in Ohio, I moved to Tennessee to play soccer in college. With my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work I have been working in hospice these past fifteen years. As an outlet for self care, many years ago I decided to start writing. Journaling a few minutes each day gradually turned in to so much more. I never planned on publishing a book and likely may not have taken that step if not for the encouragement from my family and friends! Keep shining your light everyone!
I am joined today by author Emily Michel who releases her fantasy novel Memory of Wings on August 3rd! Links to the pre-order are at the end of this post. Welcome Emily. Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your book. Please tell us a little about your novel.
Emily:A Memory of Wings(coming August 2021) is an enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance. Shax tries to escape his past as Lucifer’s best assassin after the Gates to Heaven and Hell explode, casting down to Earth all of the angels and demons caught in the blast. But then he runs into the one that got away, Guardian Angel Kheone. After rescuing her from the falling body of her friend, he finds himself searching for the killer. Shax questions his nature as a demon and faces a choice between love and saving his own skin.
Helen: What an exciting premise, it definitely sounds like a novel I would pick up. What made you begin writing?
Emily: I began writing stories in elementary school but had the joy of writing stripped from me by all the essays in high school and college. When my husband deployed in 2012, I used creative writing as a way of acknowledging and processing my feelings. It took seven more years, but I turned that story into three novels, which I self-published.
Helen: Congratulations on finding the joy of writing. I agree with you that writing is a cathartic experience. The fact that we also create amazing books is a bonus we get to share with other readers. Your preferred genre is paranormal fantasy isn’t it?
Emily: I’ve mostly written paranormal romance (five books out of seven drafted), probably because I was heavily inspired by Anne Rice, Laurell K Hamilton, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I find it fun to create these hidden worlds. I’ve also drafted a contemporary romance that I’m considering changing into a paranormal and a fantasy romance.
Helen: Seven books drafted and five of them published is an amazing feat. Did you plan the whole series or did it just sort of happen?
Emily: Oh, I’m definitely a pantser, though I have learned the wondrous utility of the Beat Sheet. I pantsed my way through my first five books then discovered Save the Cat! It helped me revise books 4 & 5 — a contemporary romance that I couldn’t fix at that time and what became A Memory of Wings. I approached my next two books (a fantasy romance and the sequel to AMOW) with beat sheets in hand, and the drafting was much easier. It’s like having a road map with the important stops marked on it, but how I choose to get to those stops is still very much freeform.
Helen: Save the cat! is an amazing book, for those writers out there, you can find the links on my recommended writing tools page. Tel us a little bit about how you write. Do you like music or silence?
Emily: I love listening to music as I write. I have multiple playlists depending on what I’m writing that day. There’s usually one overall playlist for each series, sometimes a secondary playlist for a specific book. I also have mood music: music for fight scenes, love scenes, sad scenes, sex scenes, etc. Then when it’s time to edit, I choose instrumental music. Sometimes classical, sometimes more “new age”. My playlist for A Memory of Wings features a lot of music from the TV show Lucifer and music by Klergy.
Helen: It’s been great finding out about your novel, thank you for joining me. Congratulations again on the forthcoming release of Memory of Wings. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other authors?
Emily: Keep writing and keep learning. Writing is a skill, and as with all skills, you can learn to do it better. The more you practice, the better you will get. Set aside regular time to write, not necessarily everyday if that stresses you out, but frequently and guard that time. Read inside and outside your genre. The more you read, the more you see how other authors put together stories, both the good and the bad. I’ve used some favorite books to help me determine how to structure a story. The structure behind Devil’s Claw & Moonstone, my second book, was based on an amalgamation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Voyager (Outlander 3).
About the Author:
Emily Michel spent most of her life as a military family member. She has called many places home, including Germany, Belgium, and Kansas. After nearly twenty years traipsing around Europe and the US, she settled back in her home state of Arizona a few years ago with her husband and kids.
When not writing, Emily reads, walks, hikes, and pets her feline overlords. Emily is the current President of Saguaro Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. She also volunteers for the PTA, but do not accuse her of being a PTA Mom. She’s cooler than that. Maybe.
In 2019, she self-published her Magic & Monsters trilogy, a steamy witchy romance, and is currently working on a new angel/demon romance set in Kansas City. Please buy them. Her two teenage boys eat a lot of food.
Today I am talking to author Katherine D. Graham who releases her fantasy novel The Vow that Twisted Fate on July 9th. Links to the pre-order are at the end of this post. Welcome Katherine. Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your book. I am so excited to be talking about your book as I have been reading an ARC. A Book Review will follow soon! Please tell us a little about your novel.
Katherine:The Vow That Twisted Fate follows young Queen Arlena as she seeks to defend her world from an evil Sorceress’ pending invasion. After evil was banished 500 years before the story takes place, the world became innocent and pure. A portal opens in the sky in this story, revealing the banished evil sorceress Maedra in a parallel evil dimension. Arlena must call a legendary company of Dwarven warriors forward in time to help her face the enemy they previously faced to kill, but can Arlena defeat evil without becoming evil herself?
Helen: This sounds amazing, I am thoroughly enjoying what I have read so far. Arlena certainly has her hands full, not only with other royals belittling her ability to rule, but also also with that reluctant love interest! With so many ideas within the story, how did you decide on the cover design?
Katherine: I am very fortunate in that Jesh Art Studio, who designs most of my main covers, is gifted at listening to me talk about what I love about my book and comes up with the actual concepts for me. With The Vow That Twisted Fate I knew I wanted to reflect the parallel dimensions and heroine/villain on the front, and Jesh’s team brought it together beautifully.
Helen: How did you come up with the title for the book?
Katherine: I actually first had the idea for this book in a dream, and a line I remember vividly from the dream was a line that turned into the title “The Vow That Twisted Fate”. It is the vow that the ancient Dwarven company made with Arlena’s ancestor that allows them to travel through time to help Arlena change the fate of her world.
Helen: I believe Epic Fantasy is not the only genre you write in.
Katherine: I write a few different genres within fantasy. High/Epic Fantasy is my primary genre, but I also write some Paranormal Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, and Court Intrigue
Helen: How did you first start writing? What inspired you to write fantasy novels?
Katherine: I have been writing since I was a child (with crayons and construction paper). Words and stories just seem to spill out of me (telling or writing), whether I want them to or now. While I’ve written my entire life, my husband Jikyo is truly the person who inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming an author. When I received my developmental edit back for The Vow That Twisted Fate a few years ago I was so overwhelmed and devastated by the level of work it needed, that I put it down and didn’t write again for a few years. If Jikyo hadn’t convinced me that it was worth pursuing again, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Also my sister Fu, who is my ongoing muse. She keeps me on track and is my sounding board for new ideas.
Helen: Tell us a little about your writing process. I believe you have to squeeze your writing in around your busy life!
Katherine: As a working mom, I typically write in spurts. I will write a piece every free second (during naps, lunch breaks, midnight hours once everyone else is a sleep) until it’s finished, and then take a few weeks off to recover before launching into another piece. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November is my primary writing month, where everyone who knows me knows I’ll be doing some serious out-of-the-house writing, typically at a 24-hour breakfast restaurant.
Helen: It is so wonderful being able to return to cafes to write. Just the aroma of coffee starts the mental juices working. Being so busy do you have to plan your stories?
Katherine: I am 100% a pantser. I capture an idea, and then draft out the story (typically by hand the first time on paper). After that, I go backwards and ‘plot’ my story against “The Hero’s Journey” to make sure I didn’t skip any key pieces (and fill-out the story if I did).
Helen: It always amazes me how we Indie Authors fit writing into our lives. I think that is the beauty of writing, you just have to put pen to paper, or finger tips to keyboards because the story must be told! Which type of character do you prefer to write?
Katherine: This is a really tough question! It honestly depends on the story. While I love the complexity of challenge of writing a well-rounded villain who can make readers question which side they should be on, I also enjoy writing heroes.
Helen: Who is your favourite character to write?
Katherine: Honestly, I don’t know if I can pick a single one. Each one represents such a unique part of the world. The most fun to write, though, was a side-character from the company of Dwarven warriors named Geor. He is a lively, witty addition to a serious good vs evil book, and I never knew what to expect from him until it was happening.
Helen: Love it! What environment gets you in the mood for writing? Your chosen playlist or silence?
Katherine: I typically write to whatever is in the background (kid’s TV, for example), but I do listen to music when I’m alone. I usually make writing playlists with a variety of music types to fit the different characters and scenes and just play through that. I have everything from German Folk music and JRock (Japanese rock) to Dubstep and Gregorian chants on my playlist.
Helen: Quite a mixture! Is there a new project in the works? What are you currently writing?
Katherine: I am currently writing the first book in a duology called Starfire Express; a portal adventure fantasy about a young woman who boards the wrong train on holiday and finds herself on a train full of magical and mystical creatures taking a tour through other dimensions. She finds herself in the centre of a Fae rebellion against Dragon overlords.
Helen: Wow! You have a great imagination. How do you come up with the ideas for your novels?
Katherine: Many of my stories start as dreams. Lately, though, many of my stories have been rapidly-expanding from existing ones (side characters who deserve their own book, for example).
Helen: Which do you prefer, writing or editing?
Katherine: Definitely writing. Maybe it’s because I’ve been an editor for so long, but I know that the editing journey could go on forever (if we didn’t draw a line in the sand somewhere), and the pantser in me loathes the waiting and revising and waiting again. In the end, though, it’s nice to see all the pieces fall together, and my editors are AMAZING!
Helen: Where do you prefer to write? Do you have a writing space where you are most prolific?
Katherine: I love writing in nature, but real life is more practical. I often find myself writing in my recliner. Sometimes, when I have time away, I find myself writing with my sister Fu over a pancake dinner at a restaurant (pre-pandemic) or in the car at a taco drive-thru restaurant (currently).
Helen: Most writers are great readers. What have you recently read?
Katherine: There are so many good books out this year! I am reading Heavy is the Head by Katrina N. Lewis. Luna Reyes and the Emperor of Light (middle-grade fantasy) by Daniel Pagan Murphy, StarDust (science fantasy) by Nicole Wells, and Argent Blade (dark epic fantasy) by Luke Courtney are some of my recent reads that have been truly phenomenal.
Helen: I agree. There are some amazing books being released. My ‘to be read’ pile is growing. Who are your favourite authors?
Katherine: J.R.R. Tolkien and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes are my favourite traditionally-published authors. Nicole Wells, Luke Courtney, and Andrei Saygo are some of my favorite indie authors.
The Fellowship of the Rings from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series is my favourite traditionally-published book. I try to read it annually. The comradery, adventure, rich world-building, and intense plot never ceases to amaze me. I always find something new about it with each re-read.
Helen: Thank you for joining me today, it has been great talking about your new novel. Congratulations again on the forthcoming release of A Vow that Twisted Fate. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other authors?
Katherine: Be open to improvement/change, and don’t take genuine constructive criticism personally. Writing is an art; the quality improves with each book you write.
Thank you so much for the interview, Helen! You are an amazing author yourself. It is the support of the amazing indie author community and our wonderful readers that has made my writing journey one well worth taking, and I cannot express my gratitude enough.
About the Author:
Katherine D. Graham is a fantasy author, developmental editor, and Top-10 Reedsy Reviewer from Tennessee in the USA.
Her debut Epic Fantasy novel, The Vow That Twisted Fate (July 2021), is a 5-star Indie Reader Approved novel and one of five fantasy finalists in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
She is also the author of the Splitting Worlds series, with novellas Splitting Dusk (December 2019-email subscriber exclusive), Down Falls The Queen (June 2021) already published and the novella Down Falls the King (December 2021) available for pre-order now.
Katherine is happily married to her high-school sweetheart and Hero. They have two sons and three adorable fur-daughters.
Katherine love reading, writing, swimming, traveling, grilling out, and playing video games. Japan is her happy place.
Today, I am talking to fantasy author, Heather Pruitt, author of the Anelthalien series. I am excited to announce that her second book launches today! Congratulations Heather, and welcome! Please tell us a little about your series
Heather:Earth Quaking is the second book in my fantasy series Anelthalien. Earth Quaking continues the story of four teens who were brought to the land of Anelthalien by mysterious necklaces. The first book, Anelthalien, sets up the story, and Earth Quaking really dives into the action. The four main characters start encountering their enemies, struggling with this strange land, and begin to question if they can trust one another. The theme of Earth Quaking is trust: who can you trust, what can you trust, and how do you know who or what is trustworthy?
Helen: Congratulations on the release of your second novel; you must be so excited. Tell us why the book is called Earth Quaking.
Heather: The title Earth Quaking contains so much meaning that echoes through the layers of the story and characters. The four necklaces that take the four main characters to Anelthalien are each connected to an element and an elemental spirit. In Earth Quaking the earth necklace, element, elemental spirit, and the character wearing that necklace are all brought to the forefront of the story. Each of those also deal with some kind of problem that causes them to “quake” in some way. That “shaken” theme overflows into all the other characters as well. Their relationships are splintered; some are broken, but some are only temporarily shaken.
Helen: Sounds very deep! It sounds like each character will have a lot to overcome. You write fantasy, but your deep christian beliefs play a part as well so don’t they?
Heather: I love writing fantasy because it helps me step outside of myself, eagerly and easily learn lessons, and then step back into reality and recognize how much I need those lessons. With fantasy I can go battle an evil queen but then return and apply the courage I learned. I can sit and listen to the wise mentor but then return and recognize that his lessons helped me in my relationships. Christian fantasy takes it deeper–it teaches me to open my eyes to who God really is and reminds me God really can do anything.
Helen: I am sure your readers would like to know if you have more books in the pipeline. What are you currently working on?
Heather: My current WIP is the fifth book in the Anelthalien series. Like Earth Quaking, it focuses on one element and the characters tied to it. The book is packed with action and secrets that start unraveling. It dives so deep into hard questions and paralyzing emotions. I love writing it so much even though it has made me cry and worry about my characters more than any other book so far.
Helen: This is probably one of the most difficult questions an author faces, but who is your favourite character from your series?
Heather: I have two favorite characters in Anelthalien for two very different reasons. Kindle, the main character whose perspective the story is from, is very dear to me because she is so much like me and I learn about myself from her. Tad is my other favorite character because he shows how so many of us are defined by what others think and say about us and also that those conceptions are absolutely not who God made us to be. His character shows that God has placed deep in each of us a specific purpose. Tad starts out feeling so worthless, but his journey through Anelthalien gradually instills in him a sense of purpose. His growth is very encouraging.
Helen: Just to finish with, who do you prefer to write? Heroes or villains?
Heather: I enjoy writing heroes and villains because in Anelthalien the heroes and villains are like two sides of one person. Certain heroes and villains share personalities, and the more I write, the more I realize that being a hero or villain has less to do with the personality type and more to do with the choices each character makes. I like writing both because it shows me that we are all one choice away from being a hero or a villain.
Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today; I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. I wish you every success with your new novel Earth Quaking, and look forward to the next.
About the Author:
H.A. Pruitt is the Christian fantasy author of Anelthalien, and lives with a rowdy herd of guinea pigs and a sarcastic husband. H.A. Pruitt never intended to be an author and would have been happy to keep her vast imagination to herself, but God decided she would be perfect to write and illustrate the story of Anelthalien that he has given her. Now her mission in all she writes and does is to listen to, obey, and glorify God.
With the launch of her novel retelling the Wizard of Oz story, I am joined today by author Sky Sommers who released Ash Crooked Fate on June 20th! Welcome Sky. Congratulations on the release of your book. I thoroughly enjoyed your retelling of Cinderella from the viewpoint of the evil stepmother, it was brilliant, laugh out loud at times, and really made you think about how stories and history can be twisted by the person telling the story. You can find my review of Cindershere. But on with the intervew! Sky, please tell us a little about your new novel.
Sky: Hi, Helen and thank you for having me! Ash: Crooked Fates is a retelling of the Wizard of Oz based on 2 books – Baum’s and Volkov’s. It’s a young adult fantasy with a few adult chapters mixed in (nothing too untoward, no overt sex scenes or anything). A villain from the first book (well, more like an antiheroine), Melisandra aka Mellie, who keeps shoving her kids to live with strangers goes to Oz because, after all, she does want a happily ever after. With the wizard. And their youngest daughter Ellie who is supposed to be 3. Except due to peculiarities of time in different dimensions she turns out to be 17. While Ellie traipses along the yellow-brick road with the Cowardly Lion (who is really Beast’s son) and the Brainless Scarecrow (who is her guardian angel), she doesn’t know her companions are really there to find Tinman who is a long lost fae prince. All sorts of adventures befall on the travellers, including the poppy field and the flying monkeys and as Ellie keeps pining after Tinman, her dark angel is pining after her. So, a love triangle with a slow burn romance. I swear I didn’t intend to write Cinders as a quick hook-up, Embers as a rekindling romance and Ash as a slow burn one, it just happened.
Helen: I love the way you look at these stories from a different perspective, and inject humour and an insight into why people behave the way they do. The cover is gorgeous, such beautiful colours, tell us your thoughts behind it.
Sky This is a custom-made cover. My cover artist Rusham is amazing and his work ethics are just out of this world! He researched the successful genre covers and we decided the 17yo girl needed to be up front and personal on the cover because the story is mostly about her voyage, finding herself and finding her family. The Emerald City had to be in the background at the end of the yellow brick road. The red dots were a last-minute addition to refer to the poppy field incident. I didn’t want to crowd the cover with men, as there is a love triangle developing in the story, but if I would have had 2 men and 1 girl on the cover, then it could have been misinterpreted as a reverse harem story, which it isn’t. I didn’t want to put the girl’s parents (the protagonists in the adult part of the story) there either, the cover would have been too crowded.
Helen: And the title Ash Crooked Fates, how did you decide on that name?
Sky: Ash is the 3rd and last book in a trilogy (although quite possibly not the last book in the Magic Kingdom series) and I had fun for a while figuring out the Cinders-Embers-Ash titles. The subheading had to be about Fate – not going to air spoilers, but there’s a Goddess – and lives of quite a few characters are not going according to the plan they had in their heads, hence Crooked Fates in the multiple.
Helen: This is your third retelling, is this the only genre you write in?
Sky: Fairy-tales, YA and adult fantasy (grown up themes, but no erotica, mostly fade-to-black, actually), but also branching out into speculative fiction.
Helen: How do you come up with the ideas for your books, and the twists that all make such great sense once you put them all together?
Sky: I usually start hypothesising what could have happened next, after the happily ever after or after ‘the end’. Or I read a fairy-tale and spot the HUUUUGE gaps (like in Thumbelina) and I just have to go and fill them. Or just yesterday, an author friend posted a quiz about fairy-tale names, I conjured Yumiko Blackwood out of my pen name Sky Sommers and on a dare, I wrote a flash fiction piece called Yumiko and the Battlefrog. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look and wonder.
Helen: Tough question now – Out of all your books, who is your favourite character?
Sky: My fave character – that’s such an unfair question, Helen!!! They are all my babies. If I have to choose a favourite child, it would have to be Marina, the Goddess of Luck and soon also Fate, who ended up in the Magic Kingdom as the local witch and lived to be 66 only to be returned the day after she left Earth into her 25yo body. Because I can make her say the most outrageous things and everyone would just think she’s sassy. She’s probably my bossy, insane, kooky alter ego.
Helen: Sorry, I had to ask! Us readers want to know these things! Easier question then (hopefully!) What are you currently writing? Tell us about your WIP.
Sky: Which one of them? I have at least three: a short story I’m writing as a thank you for my Ash ARC readers called To Cure a Curse (a Belle&Beast retelling) and let me tell you, Belle did try to fix Beast’s curse because the kiss didn’t work and it all backfired rather spectacularly on the entire bloodline. The 2nd is This Time Around, a speculative (scifi-ish) fiction, where I have to fix a few plot holes about cloning and timeline-lines. And the 3rd is a romance between a Goddess and a light angel seeking forgiveness that will be book 1 in the Goddesses Saga (of 10 books), which will first appear in the Dark Realms Anthology (we have 35 authors and books!!!) in October 2022.
Helen: That all sounds so amazing, and keeping you very busy! I am beyond excited about the Dark Realms Anthology as this will be the first book I’ve written outside my Sentinal series. Though I currently have two ideas and can’t decide which one to use! With so many projects how do you fit writing into your daily life?
Sky: I have Tuesday evening to write. And Monday and Thursday and Saturday and Sunday evenings – when I’m on a roll, I can’t help it and my hubby & kids have learnt to live with it. Mommy needs a hobby to keep her sane.
Helen: What about your writing environment do you listen to music or prefer silence?
Sky: I used to all the time. Now I only listen to music when I get stuck and then the lyrics and sometimes the beat of the rhythm suggest avenues I haven’t noticed before.
Helen: If you didn’t write fantasy books, would you write in a different genre and if so what would you like to write?
Sky: I will and I am, in fact, writing in speculative fiction next – This Time Around, a book about cloning in post-Brexit London in year 2101 is out in October 2021 (up for pre-order).
Helen: I know most authors also read a lot. Do you have a favourite author, or book?
Sky: Jenny Crusie, hands down – she writes romcom with killer dialogue and unforgettable plots. I’ve been gifting her ‘Bet Me’ book and getting my friends hooked on her books for years. Years!
My favourite book is Jenny Crusie’s Bet Me – it’s got an unlikely romance between a gorgeous hunk and a homely actuary who have killer dialogues, super awkward family meets and exes who just don’t let up. It’s a fun romp that I keep re-reading every few years, makes me laugh every time, although I know what’s coming and it is also inspiration for writing dialogues in my own books.
Helen: What are you currently reading?
Sky: Currently, beta reading Unwish by Lynda Simmons, it’s a LOTR-reminiscent YA epic fantasy – us indie authors have to stick together and help each other out whenever we can. Also reading Jen Kropf’s A Soul As Cold as Frost – because I loved her short story in our Enchanted Water charity anthology and I want to know how the future Captain Hook fares. Also reading Wishes by Starlight because I want to know what happens to Jacque Stevens’ Elya from Letters by Cinderlight. And just a tad of regency romance by Bree Wolf called How to Live Happily Ever After – her books are entertaining period-true historic romance and that takes my mind off my plot holes.
Helen: Wow, not only writing multiple projects, also reading mutliple books, all at the same time! Out of the books you’ve recently read which would you recommend?
Sky: Oh, this is a great question, I always recommend the authors I love (see my Bookbub and Goodreads page, if you don’t believe me). Recent reads and loves: Alice Ivinya’s Enchanted Melody; Lyndsay Hall’s The Fair Queen; Esme Rome’s The Rose Kiss was one of the most original Belle&Beast stories I’ve read in ages (and I’ve read tons); Jacque Stevens’ Letters by Cinderlight was a lovely Russian royalty themed Cinderella crossed with Match Girl, and K.A.Last’s Dance of Wishes was a unique retelling of a rare fairy-tale of 12 dancing princesses. The closest book that reminded me of my favourite author was Anne Harper’s Fake It Till You Make It, it was absolutely hilarious. I can go on, do stop me.
Helen: It’s been a pleasure chatting with, thank you so much for for joining me. Congratulations again on your new release Ash Crooked Fates. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other authors?
Sky: Write every chance you get, if it is 5 minutes, 55 minutes or just 1. A creative writing course instructor who works for The Guardian said something along these lines to me and it stuck.
About the Author:
Sky was born to Estonian-Russian parents and for most of her life has lived and worked as a lawyer in Tallinn, Estonia, with brief escapes to Finland and the United Kingdom for work/study and to all but the top and bottom continents in search of her muse.
Her debut e-book in 2012 was about ancient goddesses running amock, trying to get their wilted powers back. She then proceeded to indie publishing her own ebooks and paperbacks and found her way from myths and legend via the Angelic Agency to fairytales retold for young adult and adult audiences. So far, Thumbelina has been updated for suspicious adults, a more sinister version of Cinderella was released on 21.12.20 and an adult Red Riding Hood retelling is about to be released on 21.03.21. A Wizard of Oz retelling and several short stories are in the works.
All her books are linked by some character or another and she loves making you choose at the end – by letting you pick an ending to read – one for the optimist and a slightly different one for pessimists (well, except in the Cinders-Embers-Ash trilogy because only Douglas Adams could pull off a trilogy in 5 parts). She lives in a house with a small garden with her husband and mostly one, but on occasion plus four kids.
Celebrating the launch of her YA Fantasy novel, Needlework, I am joined today by Indie author Bekah Berge. Welcome Bekah. Congratulations on the release of your book. I have it on preorder and can’t wait to read it. Please tell us a little about your novel.
Bekah:Needlework is a YA Fantasy that follows four musicians as they vie for a coveted spot on the main stage at the prestigious Olive Branch Music and Arts Festival. Needlework is the name of a band and the dynamic between the four musicians is often a complex and chaotic friendship. They love each other, but they’re also four very different people. It is a story about friendship and loyalty, pain and grief, love and healing. One of the main character’s suffers from chronic pain, which is something I suffer from. So writing about that issue was deeply personal and I feel like I opened up and wrote down a lot of my own thoughts and feelings in a way that I’ve never done before, and those things ended up in the final book. Also, there is a trigger warning.
Helen: How brave to share your own thoughts and experiences, but I think that would make the writing more honest and relatable. They do say every book has a litle piece of the author’s soul in it. I think your book my have more than most. What made you begin writing?
Bekah: Writing for me began as a way for me to deal with my thoughts and emotions. It was very therapeutic and to this day remains a way for me to process the world around me. So I suppose it’s not so much who inspired me, but what inspired me. I spin tales based on emotion and music. Both are critical in my ability to write a story.
Helen: It sounds like music is very important to you. Do you listen to music as you write?
Bekah: I do! I don’t listen to music when I edit though, interestingly enough. When I’m writing I often listen to instrumental music (Audiomachine is a big one) and I create playlists for every book. Every single book I’ve written has one specific song that conveys the “mood” of the book. I use that song almost as my anchor, while I plot the rest of the story, as well as create the rest of the playlist. Music and writing for me are very connected.
Helen: I listen to music as I write as well. Though silence works when the playlist ends and I don’t notice! Your book, Needlework has four main charcters, each I am sure was fun to write. Do you have a favourite character out of the four?
Bekah: My favorite character from my book is Nova. She’s the drummer in the band and she’s the true heart of Needlework. Nova is who I aspire to be. She’s intelligent, kind, loving, fiercely loyal, talented, and humble. She also has a ton of fire and spunk. It was an absolute joy to write about her and have her personality be such a shining beacon of hope within the story.
Helen: She sounds amazing! I am not surprised you chose her. Tell us a little about your writing process. Where do you write? Where are you most productive?
Bekah: I do all my writing in bed. I like to be snuggled up with tons of pillows, a heated blanket, and I can stay like that for hours and hours.
Helen: That would be very nice today! As I write this it is raining outside, very grey and miserable. At least we can escape the weather with so many wonderful books to choose from. Congratulations once again on the release of Needlework. I look forward to reading it! Just to close us out, when you have time to read, what is your favourite book?
Bekah: My favorite book of all time is Brightly Burning by the incredible Mercedes Lackey. Spoilers ahead! So the book follows this young kid who is a loner, a loser, he’s picked on, his family forgets that he exists…basically a lot of things I related to when I was a teenager. He then finds out that he can summon fire. His Companion finds him (a telepathic, magical spirit white horse) and takes him on this journey that gives him a sense of belonging. It’s not a happy story. I won’t spoil the ending, but it was a story that hit me hard as a teenager and then remained special to me throughout my 20s. Highly recommend giving it or any of Mercedes Lackey’s books a try. She’s a phenomenal writer!
About the Author:
Bekah Berge fell in love with all things mystical at a young age. Her love of stories led to her writing her first book in her early twenties, and she’s never looked back since. When not scribbling down fantastical tales, she enjoys traveling, gardening, vegan baking, and brewing the perfect cup of tea.
She also suffers from a rare chronic pain condition called CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) and to learn more visit: CRPSBookshelf.com.